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MY GRANDMOTHER'S GARDEN 
& AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 



MY GRANDMOTHER'S 
GARDEN AND AN 
ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 



By Mary Matthews Bray 
Author of "A Romance of Barnstable'' 




Printed by RICHARD G. BADGER at 
The Gorham Press, and sold by him at 
194 Boylston St., Boston, U.S.A., and 
by all Venders of Choice Books y MCMXI 



Copyright 1910 by Richard G. Badger 



All Rights Reserved 






My Grandmother's Garden originally ap- 
peared in The Atlantic Monthly. It is re- 
printed here by the courteous permission of 
that magazine. 



The Gorham Press, Boston, U. S. A, 

r 

©CU 27331? 



TO THE HOUSEHOLD 
OF THE GARDEN AND ORCHARD 



CONTENTS 



My Grandmother's Garden . ii 
An Orchard Ancestral . . 47 



MY grandmother's 
GARDEN 



MY GRANDMOTHER'S 
GARDEN 

MY grandmother, whose name 
I bear, departed from earth 
long before my eyes opened 
to its light. She died so young, in- 
deed, that her own children remem- 
ber her but dimly. No portrait of 
her has come down to us. It was not 
the day of cameras and kodaks. The 
photograph had not taken shape. 
Even its precursor, the daguerreo- 
type, was just simmering in the brain 
of its inventor. 

Her husband was, in the phrasing 
of the time, a man *Vell to do," and 
it seems strange that he should not 
have given permanence to the face 
he loved, in an oil painting, or in one 



II 



MY GRANDMOTHER S GARDEN 

of the quaint and dainty miniatures 
then in vogue. 

Of her especial belongings not 
many remain. A few articles of fur- 
niture and some bits of old china are 
distributed among her descendants. 
Her wedding ring, a heavy band of 
gold, was cherished by her daughter, 
and has been kept in that branch of 
the family. She did, however, leave 
one thing of real value, and that was 
her garden, — a charming one, too, — 
filled with old-fashioned shrubs and 
flowers. 

This garden came early into my 
possession, not by legacy from her, 
nor by direct gift from others, nor 
was it ever my especial property in a 
pecuniary sense. My ownership was 
not so tangible. It was partly acci- 
dental and partly temperamental. We 
lived in the ancestral home; that was 



12 



MY grandmother's GARDEN 

the accidental part. The underlying 
temperamental cause was, I am sure, 
a love of every " green growing thing." 
That love dominated my childhood, 
and it must have been strong in her, 
since in her brief married life, crowded 
with household duties and the care of 
her young children, she yet found time 
to originate and preserve a garden 
large and beautiful for that period. 

" A garden," says Bacon, *' is the 
purest of all human pleasures; it is the 
greatest refreshment to the spirits of 
man, without which buildings and 
palaces are but gross handiworks." 

The garden which I remember is a 
pleasant picture. 

A sloping green lawn led down to 
it; a high board fence enclosed it on 
two sides, shutting it in from the street, 
and a row of tall currant bushes stood 
on the other side. 



13 



The fence was far above my head 
in those early years. I could not see 
over it, nor be seen from the outside, 
yet I could hear the sound of wheels 
and the voices of passersby. This 
gave a delightful sense of seclusion, 
and as I wandered about among the 
flowers, I thought it a veritable Eden. 

The garden, which was large (it 
seemed very large to me then), had 
eight square beds, with narrow grav- 
eled paths around and between them, 
and two wide borders running along 
by the fence. The beds, raised a 
little above the paths, were enclosed 
by boards to keep the earth from fall- 
ing out. 

In those days a garden was not 
usually arranged for its effect as a 
whole. There was no special group- 
ing of plants in masses, either for 
foliage or color. Each plant was 



14 



MY GRANDMOTHER S GARDEN 

cherished for itself, and was put where 
it seemed best for it individually, or 
often, of course, where it was most 
convenient. 

The shrubs and most of the taller 
plants were in the borders. The 
centre of one was occupied by a large 
and thrifty lilac bush (it might well 
have been called a tree), which reared 
its head high above the fence, and was 
flanked on each side by smaller ones. 
In the blossoming season, garden, 
house, and yard were filled and per- 
meated with the rich fragrance. Lilacs 
could not have been plentiful in the 
town at that time, for children, and 
even older persons, were constantly 
coming to ask for them. 

**Please give me a laylock,'* was 
often the form of the request. It be- 
came something of a tax upon toi{ 
time and patience of the household to 



15 



MY grandmother's GARDEN 

supply these frequent demands, and 
at last it seemed best to appoint certain 
hours for the purpose. As soon as I 
was considered old enough to mount 
a step-ladder, and to use a pair of 
garden scissors without injuring my- 
self or others, the task of supply- 
ing the children devolved upon me. 
Wednesday and Saturday noons, on 
their way home from school, were 
their appointed hours. I remember 
well what an exciting experience it 
was to look down from that lofty perch 
at the eager faces of those below, and 
to drop the coveted flowers into their 
outstretched hands. I wondered how 
it would seem to be on the other side 
of the fence, looking up at those fra- 
grant purple clusters, the only visible 
sign of what was within, waiting 
for one's own meagre share in 
the distribution. 



i6 



MY GRANDMOTHER S GARDEN 

In the angle made by the two sides 
of the fence was a tall white rosebush, 
which, in favorable summers, bore its 
white drift of blossoms to the very top- 
most edge of the dark protecting wall. 
These roses were especially beautiful 
in the early morning. How often 
have I stolen out of the house at 
dawn, to watch the half-opened buds 
unfold, each one of creamy hue, with 
a warm salmon-pink flush at the cen- 
tre. Later in the day, full-blown and 
wearied by the fervent kisses of the 
sun, the flush faded and the creamy 
tint turned to snowy whiteness. 

This rosebush is in existence now, 
still bearing similar beautiful, creamy 
flowers. It never fails to blossom, and 
its earliest buds open each year about 
June 20. 

In a sunny part of the border were 
the double damask roses, rows upon 



17 



MY GRANDMOTHER S GARDEN 

rows of them. Low and crooked and 
of unpromising appearance, the bushes 
were in themselves, but what a lavish 
wealth of color and fragrance they 
sent forth in their season! Aaron's 
rod, that budded and blossomed, 
could scarcely have appeared a greater 
miracle. Perfect in shape, inspiring 
in color, of rich yet delicate perfume, 
these roses were royally beautiful. It 
stirred one's blood to look at them. 

1 hen there were multitudes of single 
roses, of the same soft yet glowing 
color, not less attractive in their graceful 
simplicity than the double ones. These 
bushes, like the others, were low and 
twisted, and both were given to home- 
sickness, and did not bear transplant- 
ing well. Leave them where they 
were, though cramped and crowded 
in soil sterile and grass bound, yet 
they would live and flourish; move 



i8 



MY grandmother's GARDEN 

them, and they soon dwindled and 
died. There were also blush roses 
and moss roses. The blush rose had 
an exquisite pale pink coloring, and 
the buds were very beautiful, but 
when full blown they were seldom 
perfect. The moss roses were also 
more beautiful in the bud, as the 
niossy calyx was then shown to better 
advantage. Both these varieties were 
subject to blight and mildew. 

We occasionally examined our rose- 
bushes, and picked off a few little 
green worms by hand, but I do not 
remember that we had to keep up 
any systematic warfare with insect 
pests. Now all sorts of creeping 
and flying things infest rose bushes; 
even the elm beetle does not seem 
averse to a dessert of rose leaves. 

Miss Larcom says in one of her 
poems, ''And roses grow wherever 



19 



MY GRANDMOTHER S GARDEN 

men will let them/' In these days 
they seem to grow only where men 
will stand by them and fight their 
enemies. 

At one end of the border was as- 
paragus, not grown for eating, but 
allowed to develop its fine and lace- 
like foliage. Near by were clumps 
of hollyhocks, stately and tall, with 
close-clinging blossoms of white and 
pink and red. Tall fox-gloves, white 
and purple, blue monkshood and 
prince's feather were not far away. 

In one corner was a tangle of sweet 
briar, or eglantine, thorny and for- 
bidding to the touch, yet nevertheless 
a delight all the year round. In 
spring and early summer the tender 
leaves, wet with the dew and the rain, 
sent forth spicy odors, that seemed to 
be the very breath of awakening life. 
Later it was clothed, as with a gar- 



20 



MY GRANDMOTHER S GARDEN 

ment, by hundreds of blossoms, frail 
circlets of exquisite pink petals, with 
golden stamens at the centre. In the 
autumn, behold! each blossom had 
become a gem, a seed-vessel of ruby 
hue, outshining the reddest leaves in 
brilliancy. 

Edgings of box were set along the 
borders. The popularity of box has 
waned since then, but with its com- 
pact growth, and its small, firm, shin- 
ing leaves, it is still a satisfactory plant. 
When vigorous and well cared for, it 
has a clean, slightly bitter odor; ^*the 
fragrance of Eternity," Dr. Holmes 
calls it. *'This,'' he says, **is one of 
the odors which carry us out of time 
into the abysses of the unbeginning 
past." One of the borders had also 
an edging of the striped or ribbon- 
grass — a diminutive species of bam- 
boo — and another of moss pink, a 



21 



MY grandmother's GARDEN 

lowly, heathlike plant, literally covered 
in early spring with a mass of deep 
pink bloom. 

In our garden, according to the 
custom of the time, four beds were 
given to herbs, useful in cooking or 
for simple household remedies. There 
was balm, soft and comfortable in 
aspect as in name; sage, with pretty 
blue-green leaves and ragged blue 
blossoms; thoroughwort or boneset, 
used for colds and as a spring tonic; 
wormwood, pennyroyal, and saffron, 
the latter always associated in my 
mind with measles. One bed was 
filled with small herbs, such as chives, 
mint, thyme, summer savory, and 
parsley; another, with something we 
called pot-marjoram, probably sweet 
marjoram. Over this bed, in the 
blossoming season, the bees and the 
butterflies hovered continually. When 



22 



MY GRANDMOTHER S GARDEN 

a child, I was afraid of the bees at 
first; but I found that if I did not 
molest them they had no desire to 
disturb me, and their busy humming 
soon came to have a cheerful, sociable 
sound. 

The distinctive odors of these herbs 
come back to me now, just as they 
exhaled in dewy mornings or under 
the noontide sun. I remember, too, 
the look and smell of each, when dried 
and tied in bunches, ready for winter 
use, they hung under the rafters of a 
dark garret. 

The remaining beds were devoted 
to flowers. The central space in two 
of them was given to peonies. Some 
of our older neighbors called them 
**pinys." The peony was known to 
the Greeks, the Chinese, and the 
Japanese, and highly prized by them 
all. ** Flowers of prosperity" is a 



23 



MY GRANDMOTHER S GARDEN 

Japanese name for it. It is thrifty 
and hardy, enduring well the cold of 
winter in New England. Its dark 
green foliage is always clean and 
healthy, free from blight and insects. 
Our peonies bore blooms of white 
and deep rich red. The great gor- 
geous blossoms made a fine showing in 
the garden, and were especially suita- 
ble for the adornment of large rooms, 
halls, and churches. 

In the other two beds, the place of 
honor was given to tulips. The en- 
thusiasm of the Dutch for this flower 
had reached its climax and begun to 
wane more than a century before, but 
its fame had spread to other lands, 
and it has never quite lost its prestige. 

Our tulips grew taller than the 
newer varieties, and came somewhat 
later. When the pointed red tip of 
the first leaf began to peer above the 



24 



MY grandmother's GARDEN 

soil I felt that spring had really come. 
One by one, its successors pushed 
their way up and slowly uncurled, 
and then, out of their midst, suddenly 
in a night, as it were, shot up slender 
swaying stems each crowned with a 
folded bud. I cannot see a bunch of 
tulips now, ev^en in a florist's window, 
without recalling my childish rapture 
as the buds began to unfold. How 
beautiful they were, white, pink, red, 
yellow, sometimes striped in two 
colors, as pink and white, or purple 
and white! So brilliant is the coloring 
of the tuHp that one thinks of it as a 
flower which loves the sun, but it loves 
only softly tempered rays; under 
strong sunshine it expands too quickly, 
then droops and shrivels. 

The four corners of one bed were 
filled with fleur-de-lis, — flower-de- 
luce it was then called. With its 



25 



MY GRANDMOTHER S GARDEN 

lance-shaped leaves, its tall stem, its 
curled and crape-like petals of purest 
white or deep blue, it is indeed a 
stately flower. No wonder the French 
love it, and emblazon it on frieze and 
shield, on banner and crest. 

In the corners of another bed were 
sweet-williams, the richly colored 
velvet-like petals upheld by rather 
stifFand clumsy stalks; London-pride, 
similar to sweet-william, but taller, 
and with showy scarlet blossoms; 
honesty, whose chief attraction lies 
not in leaf or flower, but in its delicate 
silvery seedpods; and bluebells, "big 
bonnie bluebells," Canterbury bells 
we called them. 

Aldrich has made them the subject 
of one of his dainty poems: — 

The roses are a regal troop, 
And modest folk, the daisies; 



26 



But bluebells of New England, 
To you I give my praises. 
To you, fair phantoms in the sun. 
Whom merry Spring discovers; 
With bluebirds for your laureates, 
And honey bees for lovers. 

One bed w^as bordered all round 
with pinks. There were single grass 
or snow pinks, pale in color, and of 
faint perfume, pure and delicate as 
Puritan maidens, double pinks, 
deeper in tint, of rich and spicy fra- 
grance; and red pinks, the name 
seeming a misnomer, unless one is 
familiar with the leaf and blossom. 

In the same bed were bachelor's 
buttons, called also ragged sailors, 
and, in some countries, corn flowers; 
larkspurs, with blossoms in all tints 
of blue and pink and purple, blending 
harmoniously like the colors in a 



27 



MY GRANDMOTHER S GARDEN 

Persian rug: and columbines, lov^ely 
nodding bells of pink and blue, be- 
loved of poets, for their airy grace. 

"A wild rose or rock-loving columbine 
Salve my w^orst w^ounds," 

writes Emerson. 

Scattered about in the various beds 
were many other plants: phlox, lupine, 
rose-campion, catch-fly, sweet rocket, 
ragged robin, mullein pinks, balsams, 
and four-o'clocks; each name awak- 
ening pleasant recollections, not only 
of the flower itself, but also of some 
association connected with it. I knew 
an old lady, a neighbor, who always 
put her teapot on the stove when her 
four-o'clocks began to open. 

*'Now popy seede in grounde is 
goode to throwe," says an old writer. 
One bed was half filled with these gay 



28 



MY grandmother's GARDEN 

flowers. There were Oriental pop- 
pies, large and flame-colored, fringed 
white ones, and smaller ones in many 
shades of pink and vivid glowing reds. 

**The poppy," says Ruskin, **is 
painted glass. It never glows so 
brightly as when the sun shines 
through it. Whenever it is seen 
against the light or with the light, al- 
ways it is a flame, and warms the wind 
like a blown ruby." 

In this bed, too, were mourning 
brides, **soft purple eyes," as someone 
has called them; and marigolds, of 
dusky yellow and herby odor, doubt- 
less the **Mary buds" of Shakespeare. 

Everywhere in bed and border 
was the little pansy or lady's delight, 
that flower of many lands and many 
names, favorite of the great Napoleon 
and of many less known men and 
women. These had no special nook, 



29 



MY GRANDMOTHER S GARDEN 

but wherever they could get a foot- 
hold, there they were, with their bright 
little faces upturned as if in welcome. 
This flower must have been always 
dearly loved, for it has so many quaint 
local names, pet names as it were, 
such as "none so pretty," and " three 
faces under a hood." Even its 
botanical name, Viola tricolor^ is 
much more agreeable to eye and ear 
than are most botanical names. The 
French pensee, a thought or senti- 
ment, is charming. Its Italian name 
means "idle thoughts." Shake- 
speare calls it Cupid's flower. 

Yet marked I where the bolt of Cupid 
fell; 

It fell upon a little Western flower. 

Before milk-white, now purple with 
love's wound. 

And maidens call it, "Love in Idle- 
ness." 

30 



MY GRANDMOTHER S GARDEN 

It is one of the blossoms that Milton 
places in Eve's couch: 

** Flowers were the couch, 
Pansies and Violets and Asphodel, 
And Hyacinth, earth's freshest, soft- 
est lap." 

But of all its names, none is quite 
so dear as "heart's ease." 

" I tell thee that the pansy, freak'd 

with jet. 
Is still the heart's ease that the poets 

knew." 

It seems strange that the daffodil 
flower of the olden time as well as of 
the present, and the subject of such 
tender and delightful tributes from 
Herrick and Shakespeare and Words- 
worth, should have been missing. I 
did not find it, but it may have been 



31 



MY GRANDMOTHER S GARDEN 

there in previous seasons. Some 
changes must doubtless have taken 
place during the many years that 
elapsed between my grandmother's 
departure from her garden and my 
own advent therein. 

In the late autumn came the chry- 
santhemums, not the gorgeous Japa- 
nese varieties of the present day, but 
modest flowers in shape and color, 
usually of white and golden and dull 
red. Very welcome they were in the 
chilly shortening days, and very hardy 
too, defying early frosts, and bloom- 
ing on until the close approach of 
winter. 

There was one plant for which we 
had no definite name: I have since 
heard it called **live forever," and, 
locally, frogplant, blowleaf, and pud- 
ding-bag plant. The leaves were 
thick, and by rubbing them gently 



32 



MY grandmother's GARDEN 

between the thumb and forefinger, the 
epidermis could be loosened from the 
green pulp and blown into a bag. If 
one blew hard enough, the bag would 
burst with a satisfying pop. 

When my young friends came to see 
me on summer afternoons, we often 
spent hours on the lawn or in the 
garden, and one of our amusements 
was making these bags. We also 
made lilac chains to hang about our 
necks, and larkspur wreaths, which 
we pressed and then fastened on 
cards. 

My only memory of the garden not 
wholly delightful is connected with 
the currant bushes. I was sometimes 
required to pick currants for the table 
or for jelly. They were too acid to 
suit my childish taste; consequently I 
could not solace myself by eating 
them, and I found the work irksome. 



33 



MY GRANDMOTHER S GARDEN 

Looking back at those days now, I 
wonder at myself. To be picking 
currants in that garden, surrounded 
by my cherished flowers, seems only 
a part of it all, not less enjoyable than 
the rest. 

Near the garden, and seeming really 
a part of it, since it grew over a trellised 
doorway opening out on the lawn, was 
a climbing honeysuckle, of a kind 
which at present seems to be dying 
out. Only now and then do we come 
across one, trained over a doorway or 
in a sheltered nook of some old estate. 
It has been discarded, doubtless, for 
faster growing and more hardy va- 
rieties, but none of them can equal 
it in the beauty and sweetness of its 
blossoms. These were deep pink in 
the bud, paling a little as they opened; 
turning then to pearly white, then to 
cream color, then to yellow, — all 



34 



MY GRANDMOTHER S GARDEN 

Stages visible in the same cluster, and 
the whole giving forth the most ex- 
quisite indescribable perfume; a spicy 
breath of the wildwood mellowed by 
the rich scent of a hothouse favorite. 
That dear old-fashioned garden, 
how I loved it! I used to spend hours 
there considering the plants; rejoic- 
ing with the thrifty, and trying to 
assist those that were backward or 
drooping; bidding each good morn- 
ing and good night, not liking to pass 
any one by, lest it should feel the 
omission. I had never read Shelley's 
Sensitive Plant, and knew not his 
Lady of the Garden, she who was a 

" Power in that sweet place, 

An Eve in that Eden ; a ruling grace." 

If I had, I might have likened my- 
self to her, in a minor and mundane 
way, for had I not 



35 



MY grandmother's GARDEN 

" Tended the garden from morn to 
even, 

Sprinkled bright water from the 

stream 
On those that were faint with the 

sunny beam ? " 

The garden was a potent factor in 
most of my pleasures, and not in mine 
only; all the children of the family 
and the neighborhood shared in its 
benefits. How many choice nose- 
gays have been gathered there and 
given to favorite friends! How many 
Maybaskets embellished with its 
treasures! How many June wreaths 
constructed out of its abundance! 

Older persons, too, shared in its 
bounty. Communities were neigh- 
borly then, and scarcely a day passed 
that some one did not come to beg 



36 



MY GRANDMOTHER S GARDEN 

a sprig or two of marjoram or pars- 
ley, as * 'seasoning"; a little sage or 
balm, to make tea for an invalid; a 
few currants to 'Vhet up" the ap- 
petite of some ailing relative. 

There were no public greenhouses 
in town, and if a rural bride wanted 
a rose for her hair or a bouquet for 
her hand, she sent some one to ask 
for it. When sorrowing friends 
wished to soften the grim fact of death, 
by laying flowers about a loved one, 
they also came, and no one went away 
empty handed. 

Some years later a favorite uncle, 
the youngest son of my grandmother, 
instituted certain changes in the gar- 
den. He had the currant bushes and 
all the herbs removed to the vegetable 
garden, and the space thus gained 
given to flowers. 

Snowball trees were then in vogue. 



37 



MY GRANDMOTHER S GARDEN 

and a small one was set out in the 
centre of each bed vacated by the 
herbs. These grew rapidly and soon 
became thrifty trees, occupying far 
more than the space originally allotted 
to them. The showy white blossoms 
became ere long rivals of the lilac in 
popular affection. 

* 'Please give me a snowball," was 
only a new form of an old request. 

New varieties of roses were added : 
Scotch roses, spice roses, multifloras, 
Baltimore belles, beautiful indeed (all 
roses are beautiful), but not more so, 
and far less fragrant than the ones 
already there. 

Dahlias tall and stately, with curved, 
quill-like petals of velvet texture and 
richest tints, and asters in many colors 
and shades were new acquisitions. 

Among the smaller flowers were 
Enghsh daisies, fragrant violets, sweet 



38 



MY grandmother's GARDEN 

peas, **on tiptoe for a flight," mignon- 
ette, day lilies, white and yellow, 
sweet and shortlived; the blue peri- 
winkle, sometimes called myrtle, a 
lowly running plant with dark glossy 
leaves and flowers of purest azure; 
the forget-me-not, that tiny blossom, 
doubly a favorite for itself and for its 
name; and amaranth of such crisp 
and lasting texture as to seem an arti- 
ficial product rather than a natural 
growth. 

In the border was set a snowberry, 
bearing waxen fruit; a syringa, of al- 
most cloying sweetness; Japanese 
lilies, and a tiger lily, beloved at least 
of one poet, for has not Aldrich written 

I Hke the chaliced lilies, 
1 he heavy Eastern lilies. 
The gorgeous tiger lilies. 
That in our garden grow ? 



39 



MY GRANDMOTHER S GARDEN 

One of my special favorites among 
the new plants was the Missouri flow- 
ering currant, a shrub with small 
yellow blossoms, opening so early as 
3 seem a herald of the spring, and 
breathing forth, especially at dawn or 
dusk, an elusive fragrance in which 
there seemed no sensuous element. 

Another of my favorites was the 
jonquil or poet's narcissus, an ex- 
quisite flower, with an orange-yellow 
centre, and a circlet of pure white 
petals bending slightly backward 
toward the long, slender stem. 

As the summers came and went 
other plants crept into the garden, 
annuals, biennials, those growing from 
bulbs, and those that had to be housed 
in the winter; the crocus and hya- 
cinth, lilies-of-the-valley, convolvulus, 
candytuft, morning glories, geraniums 
of many kinds, petunias, salvias, 



40 



MY grandmother's GARDEN 

gladioli, coreopsis, polyanthus, helio- 
trope, and flowering almond. A climb- 
ing rose; a fragrant, starlike clematis; 
a trumpet honeysuckle, beloved of 
humming birds; and later a wistaria, 
with graceful drooping plumes, made 
beautiful the trellised doorway. 

In process of time the fence was 
cut down in height, and later was re- 
placed by one of a more open pattern; 
consequently, the enclosure lost some- 
thing of its character as a secluded 
retreat. The general arrangements 
of the beds, borders, and paths was, 
however, kept, and we still called it 
'^grandmother's garden." 

But the fashion of the world 
changeth. Time is an iconoclast, 
and at length there came a day when 
it was decreed that the garden must 
go to make way for a larger expanse 
of lawn. The plants were removed 



41 



MY GRANDMOTHER S GARDEN 

to a Space set apart for them in a yard 
at the back of the house, and the beds 
and paths were levelled. A part of 
the border was allowed to remain, and 
the vines over the doorway were un- 
touched, but the garden as a whole, 
'^grandmother's garden," ceased there 
and then to exist. 

At a period when Puritan asceticism 
had still a strong hold, such a garden 
must have had a softening and re- 
fining influence. Afterwards, and 
always while it lasted, it was a centre 
from which radiated those small inter- 
changes and amenities that tend to 
make life less hard and prosaic. 

And so to this grandmother, whose 
name I bear, yet who is, nevertheless, 
very much of a myth to me, I feel that 
I owe both gratitude and allegiance, 
not only for the happy days spent 
among her flowers, but also for the 



42 



MY grandmother's GARDEN 

helpful and lasting influence thus 
thrown about my life. 

Had she lived long enough on earth 
for me to become acquainted with her, 
the garden must, I am sure, have been 
a bond of union between us, and such 
it will doubtless become should I ever 
meet her in the Hereafter. 



43 



AN 
ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 



AN 
ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

IS there anything that affords a 
child such pure enjoyment as 
an ancestral orchard ? 

To be altogether delightful, it 
should have lapsed a little from its 
noontide of productiveness, yet not 
enough to have fallen into any pro- 
nounced decadence. It must, how- 
ever, have been notable in its day; 
sufficiently large to give a sense of 
space, though not so large as to pre- 
vent a feeling of ownership and fa- 
miliarity; near enough to the home- 
stead to seem a part of it, yet far 
enough away for freedom and seclu- 
sion. 

In such an orchard I had the good 



47 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

fortune to roam at will. There I 
playedjworked, dreamed, and thought. 
The house where I Hved and in which 
I was born seemed no more a part of 
my home than did the orchard. In a 
neglected corner of it I had first met 
those early companions of childhood, — 
dandelions, buttercups, and daisies. 
There I had made the acquaintance 
of wild violets, Gill-over-the-ground, 
tender-tinted chicory blossoms, and 
asters, white, purple, and golden. In 
a little square bounded by four trees 
my young companions and I had 
played *'puss in the corner" and "I 
spy." 

In the low-spreading branches of 
an old apple tree a rustic seat had 
been built. To this I climbed daily, 
playing that it was a throne and I a 
princess, or a prison and I a captive, 
or any other fairy tale that my fancy 



48 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

might invent. As some one has aptly 
said, '* So long as there are children in 
the world, the golden and objectless 
occupation of makebelieve will go on/' 
In blossom time I seemed to myself 
to be living in a dream world. The 
morning flush of peach blooms, the 
snowy purity of cherry and pear, the 
rose and pearl of apple blossoms, 
thrilled me with joy interfused with 
sadness. I dimly felt what another 
sweet and sensitive spirit has so well 
expressed : 

'*To-day I worship in the apple 

boughs. 
With the great congregation of the 

flowers. 
That come up to their heights as came 

the tribes 
Of old unto Mount Zion once a year, 
A passover of perfect open praise." 



49 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

Cherry time was another festal 
season, though in a different way. 
Is any other fruit so dear to childhood ? 
The very aroma of youth seems to 
Hnger about the name. When the 
red cherries and the blackhearts 
were permeated through and through 
with the sweetness born of sunshine, 
then indeed there was feasting in 
the orchard. The girls, mounted on 
step-ladders, gathered the fruit from 
the lower boughs, while the boys 
climbed up into the trees and rifled 
the higher ones, dropping down now 
and then choice clusters to the girls be- 
low. When at last we departed, even 
our youthful appetites being satisfied, 
then to the second table, as it were, 
came the birds. There was always an 
abundance left for them and many 
choice, ripe ones they found on topmost 
twigs, that only airy winged crea- 



50 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

tures like themselves could reach. 

The cherry, it is generally believed, 
was first cultivated in an old Greek 
tov^n called Cerasos. Pliny relates 
that the Roman general Lucullus 
brought it from Cerasos to Rome. 
A tree laden with this fruit is said 
to have adorned his triumphal pro- 
cession. Lucullus was noted for the 
elaborate banquets that he gave, and 
this new product, alluring to the eye 
as well as to the taste, must have made 
a welcome addition. An anecdote 
illustrating his love of luxury has 
come down to us from the past. 
Once, when a fine supper had been 
proposed, he was asked who were to 
be his guests. 

**Lucullus will sup to-night with 
Lucullus," was his reply. 

Longfellow thus alludes to these 
feasts : 



51 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

**Ne'er Falernian threw a richer 
Light upon Lucullus's tables." 

In another part of the orchard 
were the wild or black cherry trees, 
with leaves of smooth, shining green, 
changing in autumn into dull olive 
tints, then to brilliant yellow, then to 
tawny orange and crimson. They 
bore long strings of glossy black cher- 
ries with a winey flavor. These we 
ate in their season, but they were 
chiefly used in making cherry rum, 
considered beneficial for colds and 
coughs, and also as a spring tonic. 

On the upland side of the orchard 
was a row of mulberry trees, some 
bearing white, others reddish-black 
berries. According to an ancient 
myth, all mulberries were white, un- 
til the tragic death of Pyramus and 
Thisbe under the mulberry tree, near 
the tomb of Ninus. Their blood 



52 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

sinking to the roots of the tree gave 
to the berries a red color, which they — 
and presumably their descendants — 
ever after retained. 

The midberry is of Eastern origin, 
and from there was early introduced 
into England. Many allusions are 
made to it by old writers. Gerard 
describes it as *'high and full of 
bough es." Spenser speaks of it as "the 
fruit that dewes the poet's braine." 
Another calls it the 'Visest" of all 
the trees, for ''this tree only bringeth 
forth his leaves after the cold frostes 
be past." 

There is an old saying that **a 
mulberry tree is a patent of nobility 
on any lawn." This may have had 
its origin in the fact that as early as 
1609 King James the First of Eng- 
land had a garden of these trees on 
the site where Buckingham Palace 



53 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

now Stands. They consequently be- 
came valued ornaments of English 
gardens. King James also made an 
effort to introduce them into Virginia 
soon after its settlement, with a view 
to silk culture. The colonists, how- 
ever, preferred to raise tobacco, and 
doubtless they found it more profitable. 

Shakespeare frequently alludes to 
the mulberry, and it is supposed that 
he planted the celebrated tree which 
long adorned his garden. It is said 
that the reverend Mr. Gastrell, who 
bought *'New Place," cut the tree 
down to save himself the trouble of 
showing it to visitors. Various me- 
mentoes were made of the wood. 

Cowper, who notwithstanding his 
lifelong melancholy wrote some lively 
lines, has these about the mulberry: 
**The mulberry tree was hung with 

blooming wreaths, 



54 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

The mulberry tree stood centre of the 

dance; 
The mulberry tree was hymned with 

dulcet strains, 
And from his touch-wood trunk, the 

mulberry tree. 
Supplied such relics as devotion holds, 
Still sacred, and preserves with pious 

care.'* 

About 1830 an attempt was made 
by the legislatures of several states to 
introduce silk culture into this country, 
and a new variety of the white mul- 
berry was imported from China. It 
may have been about this time that 
the trees in our orchard were set out, 
but any hope or expectation then con- 
nected with them had evidently come 
to naught, for no use was made by 
the household either of the leaves or 
the abundant crop of berries that each 
July brought forth. The children of 



55 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

the neighborhood met there occa- 
sionally for mulberry feasts, and the 
birds came in chattering crowds and 
ate their fill quite unmolested. 

The fruit of the mulberry tree is, 
however, its least claim to distinction. 
During the heat of summer, the long 
branching limbs of these vigorous 
trees, clothed with leaves of soft yel- 
lowish green, offer an inviting shelter 
from the blinding glare of sunlight. 
In the waning months of autumn the 
foliage takes on warm golden tints, 
that seem to have a wondrous quality 
of holding and diffusing sunshine. 
This foliage is always clean and free 
from insect pests. Only silkworms 
appear to find in it their desired nutri- 
ment. Other worms and bugs pass it 
by. Is this, perhaps, an instance of 
Nature's law of average or balance, 
each species of animal life finding its 



56 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

Special food in some variety of plant 
life ? 

Between one of the mulberry trees 
and a convenient pear tree a ham- 
mock had been suspended. The 
staple that held up one end of it was 
embedded in the massive trunk of the 
mulberry; the other pierced the 
slender stem of the pear. Swing as 
violently as one might, not a tremor 
swayed the huge bulk of the former, 
not a leaf stirred the faster. The 
pear tree, on the contrary, shook and 
trembled with each movement; its top- 
most boughs drooped and bent, and 
its leaves lost their hold and fluttered 
downward. Yet what a brave little 
tree it was! Wounded almost to 
its vital sap-bearing centre by the iron 
spike, overtopped and partially de- 
prived of sunshine by its more vigor- 
ous neighbor, it yet strove to bear 



57 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

fruit. Each spring it put forth lovely 
white blossoms. All through the 
summer, though weakened and pulled 
about by the weight of its unnatural 
burden — the hammock — it did its 
best to nourish the little green balls 
that had replaced the blossoms. 
When autumn came these prema- 
turely fell, smitten by decay ere the 
season of maturity had come. Each 
year the same process went on. The 
tree's mission was to bear fruit — 
pears. This was ingrained in its 
very nature. No matter what un- 
favorable environment had fallen to 
its lot, it must still strive to fulfil its 
mission. Even as a child I had a 
vague sense of this, though I could not 
have put it into words. My sympa- 
thy took a more practical and self- 
denying form. I swung very gently 
out of consideration for the tree, and 



58 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

if my young friends seemed bent on 
more vigorous motion, I enticed them 
away to some new pleasure. 

The grape arbor was another fa- 
vorite haunt. The word grape is 
said to come from grappe, an old 
French word meaning bunch or 
cluster. The latter word recalls 
Eshcol, which signifies cluster. 

**The place was called the brook — 
or valley — Eshcol, because of the 
cluster of grapes which the children 
of Israel cut down from thence.'' 

But grape might come more natur- 
ally, one would think, from the Italian 
grappo — a grappling or clutching — 
so persistently do the vines send out 
clinging tendrils, and such firm hold 
do they take of anything that seems to 
offer the least support. 

The beginnings of the vine — mean- 
ing usually the grapevine — appear 



59 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

to go back into the unrecorded past. 
It is related that ''grape kernels/' or 
seeds, have been found in mummy 
cases of the eleventh Egyptian dy- 
nasty, that is, some two thousand 
years before Christ. The vine is one 
of the plants frequently mentioned in 
the Bible. Figurative allusions to it 
abound. Palestine was a land of 
vines. Grapes were largely cultivated 
and the vintage was a time of re- 
joicing. 

"They shall sit every man under 
his vine and under his figtree and 
none shall make them afraid." There 
the vine is evidently an emblem of 
peace. 

Israel was a vine brought out of 
Egypt. ''Thou hast brought a vine 
out of Egypt. Thou hast cast out the 
heathen and planted it." 

The languishing of the vine was 



60 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

apparently used to indicate desolation. 
*Tor the fields of Heshbon languish, 
and the vine of Sibmah; the lords, 
of the heathen have broken down the 
principal plants thereof. . . And 
in the vineyards there shall be no 
singing; the treaders shall tread out 
no wine in the presses." 

This imagery of the Bible reaches 
its culmination in the saying of Jesus, 
*'I am the true Vine." 

Over the arbor in our orchard 
grew two varieties of grapes, one the 
well-known Isabella, the other a light- 
colored, almost white grape, for which 
the family had no special name. On 
trellises near by grew a Concord and 
a Catawba. Adventurous waving 
tendrils from these had reached out 
towards a convenient apple tree, and 
grasping slender twigs here and there, 
had so overrun the tree that it had 



6i 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

become a bowerlike adjunct to the 
arbor. 

When on some morning in May or 
early June I woke to find in the air 
about me an indefinable haunting 
fragrance, I knew that the grape- 
vines were putting forth their blos- 
soms. Straightway I hastened to the 
arbor that I might the more fully 
steep myself — body and spirit — in 
the delicate elusive perfume. This 
wondrous quality of the unobtrusive 
blossoms has not escaped notice. 
Long ago, Bacon wrote: 

"Among the most sweet-scented 
flowers, next to muskroses and straw- 
berry leaves dying, are the flowers of 
the vine; it is a little dust which 
grows among the cluster in the first 
coming forth." 

From that time on, through all the 
months, until the heavy purpling 



62 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

clusters had ripened and been gath- 
ered in, no day passed that I did not 
seek its shelter. There I took my 
schoolbooks to study my lessons. 
There I beguiled the monotony of 
sewing, by listening to the birds or 
watching the glancing play of sun- 
beams as they flickered in and out 
amid the thick green leaves. There 
with my companions we planned 
merrymakings, or discussed in a 
jocular or half-serious fashion phases 
of the many problems that present 
themselves to young minds. 

In one part of the orchard were 
the small fruits. Much use was made 
of these, and the children of the 
family were pressed into service in 
picking them. So far as the straw- 
berries and blackberries were con- 
cerned, we found it fairly enjoyable, 
since we could eat as many as we 



63 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

desired. The currants, too, were 
easy to pick, but the demand for them 
seemed Hmitless, since over and above 
the daily needs, supplies of jelly and 
wine were to be made for winter use. 
The gooseberry gathering was more 
irksome, because of the little prickly 
thorns which seemed to be trying to 
guard the berries from marauding 
hands. Yet even this had its alle- 
viation. In all the English novels 
which I had ever read, gooseberry 
tarts seemed to be a favorite table 
delicacy. The heroes and heroines 
ate them with relish, as well as the 
minor personages. This gave a for- 
eign and aristocratic aspect to the 
unpretentious green fruit. 

Over a low wall near by grew a 
barberry bush, probably transplanted 
from the fields. Its racemes of yel- 
low blossoms in the spring, its scarlet 



64 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

berries, and the varied colors of its 
maturing leaves in the autumn, ren- 
dered it an attractive shrub. A half 
century or more ago, barberries, stewed 
with sugar or molasses, were used as a 
sauce to be eaten with meat; " shoe- 
peg sauce," some irreverent person 
called it, and not inappropriately 
either. When combined with sweet 
apples they became more palatable. 

A mildew, it is said, sometimes at- 
tacks the barberry, which in another 
form becomes the rust of wheat. 
Massachusetts once made a law re- 
quiring farmers who raised wheat to 
cut down all barberry bushes near 
their fields. 

In this part of the orchard were the 
beds of herbs. These also were gath- 
ered, dried, and kept for use when 
needed. Some of them were valued 
for their medicinal qualities. Sage 



6s 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

was a notable example of this, the 
very name coming from the Latin 
salvus, meaning safe, sound. **No 
man needs to doubt of the whole- 
someness of sage,'' says an old writer. 
**It is good for the head and the brain. 
It quickens the senses and the mem- 
ory.'* Sage tea was often used as a 
beverage, in place of oolong or hyson. 
Wormwood also was considered to 
have tonic and stimulating qualities. 
**As bitter as wormwood " was an old 
saying. Perhaps its bitterness had 
something to do with its supposed 
curative property. In the days be- 
fore homeopathy and the eclectic sys- 
tems had come to the front with their 
modifying influence, most drugs were 
very ill-tasting compounds. The 
name wormwood comes apparently 
from two Anglo-Saxon words — we- 
riariy to protect, and niody mind; 



66 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

literally, therefore, **mlnd preserver/' 
The plant belongs, however, to the 
genus Artemisia from Artemis, the 
Greek name of Diana. Southern 
vs^ood is a name for wormv^ood at the 
South. It is supposed to be a cor- 
ruption of an old English w^ord — 
Suthe-v^ort, — soothing v^ort, — a name 
given probably because it v^as thought 
to have a soporific effect. Tarragon 
is an aromatic species of Artemisia, 
used in vinegar and pickles, also 
largely in France in the shape of 
absinthe. 

Summer savory, sweet marjoram, 
chives, thyme, and mint were chiefly 
used for seasoning. Bees were con- 
tinually hovering over these beds. 
They seem to find the inconspicuous 
blossoms of herbs, and the smaller 
fruits, as currants and gooseberries, 
more attractive than the gayer flowers 



67 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

of the garden. These little crea- 
tures long ago earned a reputation for 
prudence and wisdom. Doubtless 
there is more honey-making material 
in such plants as mankind has thought 
worth cultivating for his own nutri- 
ment or delectation. Bees are es- 
pecially fond of sweet marjoram and 
thyme. Spenser speaks of the " bees 
alluring tyme." An old writer says, 
" Mount Hymettus in Greece and 
Hybla in Sicily were so famous for 
Bees and Honi, because there grew 
such store of Tyme." 

Mrs. Browning in '* Wine of Cy- 
prus," mentions these bees: 
"And the brown bees of Hymettus 
Make their honey not so sweet." 
In this vicinity was also a rhubarb 
bed. The plant is supposed to have 
been first found on the banks of the 
river Volga, in Russia, and the name 



68 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

was apparently compounded of Rha 
an old name of the river, and barharus 
— foreign. The plant must have 
been very crude in those early days, 
but it has been greatly improved by 
cultivation. Coming as it does in the 
early spring, when one is longing 
for something fresh, it whets the jaded 
appetite into renewed keenness. The 
long, thick, succulent, pinkish-green 
leaf stalks make most satisfying tarts, 
pies, and sauce. It is easily grown 
too, yet I made many a morning trip 
through the dew-laden grass to cut 
a few stalks for some unthrifty neigh- 
bor, who " didn't know what to make 
a pie of," or who " felt the need of a 
little something sour.'' 

Most of the fruit trees in the or- 
chard were of the well-known older 
varieties, having been selected and 
planted in the days of a preceding 



69 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

generation. They were still in fine 
bearing condition, however, therefore 
but few later ones had been added. 

Of course there were pear, plum, 
and peach trees. Of the pears there 
were the Bartlett and Duchess, slender 
and tall; the more stately Clapp's 
favorite; the seckel and bufFum; the 
iron-clad vicar, and some others of 
names unknown. One was a large 
tree with spreading branches, thickly 
clothed with leaves. It bore russet- 
brown pears, of medium size, very 
sweet, with a nutty flavor, delicious 
as a dessert fruit, and also when baked. 
This tree bore abundantly, but the 
fruit had to be carefully guarded 
against the depredations of chip- 
munks and gray squirrels. Not that 
they cared for the fruit itself, the 
seeds were what they wanted. Before 
the pears were ripe enough to gather 



70 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

they would be found lying on the 
ground, gnawed into halves, with 
every seed extracted. Some quality 
these must have had which made 
them a specially desirable food for the 
little semi-wild creatures. 

There were peaches both yellow 
and white. Most of them had 
grown into shrubs or small trees, 
after the American fashion. One was 
trained upon a wall, as is common in 
England and middle Europe. The 
first peaches known to the Greeks 
came from Persia, but far back in a 
remoter past they were cultivated in 
China, that ancient land to which the 
beginnings of so many apparently 
modern things may be traced. The 
peach is a short-lived tree. Thirty 
years is said to be its limit, even under 
the most favorable circumstances. 
From seven or eight to ten years is its 



71 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

average life. Many of the trees in 
the orchard had Hved longer than that, 
however, and where one had died, 
another like unto it had sprung up 
near by, notwithstanding the fact that 
the peach does not commonly " repro- 
duce true to seed." 

In the cool mornings of early au- 
tumn I liked to gather the purple 
plums, the juicy yellow pears, and the 
ripe velvety peaches that had fallen in 
the night or were ready to drop at a 
touch. I liked also to linger and 
slowly eat them, trying one and then 
another. Fruit eaten under the trees 
upon which it has grown seems to 
have a peculiar delicacy and richness 
of flavor. Is it because one gets it in 
its first freshness, or is it that some 
portion of the life or spiritual quality 
of the tree — which must later es- 
cape — is still inhering there ^ It 



72 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

may indeed be due only to the vivify- 
ing power of imagination, yet Thoreau 
has said, *' There is about all nat- 
ural products a certain volatile and 
ethereal quality which represents their 
highest value, and which cannot be 
vulgarized or bought or sold." 

There were many apple trees in the 
orchard, and of several varieties. The 
apple seems to have been always 
closely connected with the history of 
the human race. According to geolo- 
gists, the order of the Rosacea, which 
includes the apple and similar fruits, 
was introduced upon the earth only 
a short time before the appearance of 
man. The term apple, traced to its 
root in various languages, signifies 
fruit in general. Therefore it was 
probably not always limited to the 
fruit now known by that name. Sir 
John Mandeville in describing the 



73 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

Cedar of Lebanon, says, "And upon 
the hills growen trees of Cedre, and 
they bearen large apples." The old 
Anglo-Saxon name for the black- 
berry was **bramble apple,'* and we 
still speak of the pineapple. 

Something known by that name 
is, however, frequently mentioned in 
the earliest writings. **As the apple 
tree among the trees of the wood,"jsays 
Solomon, and again, *'Stay me with 
flagons and comfort me with apples." 
In the mythologies of Greece and 
Rome, the apple plays many parts. 
The golden apples of the Hesperides, 
and the apples that Hippomenes 
threw down in his race with Atlanta 
are among them. 

According to Homer, the apple was 
one of the fruits that Tantalus could 
not pluck. **Tall trees laden with 
fruit — pears, pomegranates, apples, 



74 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

and figs, stooped their heads to him," 
but when he tried to grasp them, 
"windswhirledthemoutof his reach." 

Ulysses saw in the wonderful garden 
of Alcinous, lofty trees — * *pear and 
pomegranate, apple, fig, and olive, all 
bearing beautiful fruit." 

It is a *'far cry" from the age of 
fantastic myths to the prosaic real- 
ities of the nineteenth century, yet 
Mr. Alcott, of Concord, had among 
his many theories one concerning the 
beneficial and curative qualities of the 
apple so extreme that it might al- 
most be termed a modern rendering 
of some old fable. He stoutly main- 
tained that any one who should live 
largely on apples would not only have 
physical health, but would be able to 
rise to higher levels of intellectual 
and moral attainment. He insisted, 
moreover, that such a diet would give 



75 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

one a fine voice for speaking and 
singing. 

One cannot but wonder if the germ 
of this theory may not have arisen out 
of some fabulous tale, like that of 
Iduna, the Scandinavian goddess, 
who kept certain apples in a box, and 
when any of the gods felt old age ap- 
proaching, they had only to taste one 
of them to become young and strong 
again. Or that of the singing apple, 
perhaps, which had such " power of 
persuasion," that even the smell of it 
would enable one to become a poet, 
a philosopher, or whatever one might 
desire. The apples which Alcott 
recommended, however, were not pos- 
sessed of any magical qualities. They 
were real apples, products of earth, 
air, and sunshine. 

It is believed that all the cultivated 
apples in the world have come from 



76 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

the common wild apple and the crab- 
apple. Crab seems to be a term 
formerly applied to all small apples, 
though sometimes the Pyrus-baccata, 
a small, long-stemmed variety is 
meant. 

The crabapple tree in our orchard 
bore fruit scarcely larger than good- 
sized cherries, nevertheless a de- 
licious jelly was made from them of a 
delicate red color. Both in the blos- 
soming season, and later on when 
laden with blushing fruit, the tree 
looked more like an ornamental shrub 
for the lawn than like a useful or- 
chard tree. One might easily fancy 
it a native of Japan, since all things 
in that wonderful country, from the 
people down, seem to be elaborately 
wrought and finished, yet on a Lilli- 
putian scale. 

Crabapples were held in greater 



n 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

esteem a century or more ago than 
now. In England they were roasted 
and served with little dishes of cara- 
way seeds. When roasted and served 
with hot ale they were a favorite 
Christmas dish. It is said that in 
certain sections these customs are 
still observed. 

Among the trees bearing early ap- 
ples was one small in size, but most 
productive. The apples ripened in 
late July or early August. They were 
very white and mellow, and neither 
sweet nor sour. The addition of 
sugar seemed to bring out the flavor, 
so that they were much in demand for 
sauce and tarts. The skin was a pale 
lemon color. They dropped from the 
boughs at a touch or a breath of wind, 
and they had no **keeping qualities," 
consequently basketfuls were dis- 
tributed daily among the neighbors. 



78 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

This tree was comparatively modern, 
and was supposed to belong to the 
family of transparent apples of Rus- 
sian origin. 

A little later came the well-known 
porters. These also were yellow- 
skinned, flecked with crimson on one 
side. They were pleasant to the 
taste, and very useful as a cooking 
apple. 

One tree — the pride of the or- 
chard — had low-drooping branches, 
like a bower. This also was a com- 
paratively recent addition, though no 
one seemed to be quite sure of its 
name or pedigree. It was supposed 
to be some seedling of the fameuse 
(famous), a Canadian apple which 
has made a name for itself. It may 
have been the " fameuse sucree^* or 
the * 'Mcintosh Red," well entitled to 
be called, as it has been, a glorified 



79 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

" fameuse rouge/' This tree was a 
most generous giver, and the apples 
were of remarkable quality and flavor. 
They were large and fair, the pulp 
pure white, faintly tinged with pink, 
just under the skin, which was thin and 
of a deep beautiful crimson. Such 
apples as these might easily persuade 
one to some measure of credence in 
Mr. Alcott's theories. They were 
indeed ambrosial food, fit for gods 
and men. 

Among the latter varieties were 
the baldwin, greening, winter sweet, 
golden pippin, and russet or russet- 
ing. A baldwin tree in October is a 
thing of beauty. The apples gleam 
ruddily amid the green leaves, and 
weigh the branches down almost to 
the ground with their abundance. 
They are large, smooth, mellow, yet 
firm of texture, and are justly popu- 



80 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

lar. Greenings and winter sweets 
are both valuable varieties for winter 
use. The greenings become mellow 
as the season advances, and they have 
remarkable ^'keeping quality." Win- 
ter sweets or sweetings, baked or 
roasted, and eaten with sugar or 
cream, make a dish scarcely inferior 
to the far-famed excellence of straw- 
berries in cream. The golden pip- 
pins with their ruddy bloom are very 
attractive on the tree, and they may 
be used in many ways for the table. 
The brown russets, formerly called 
**leather-coats," come to the front in 
the late winter or early spring, when 
other apples and most vegetables have 
become limp and tasteless. 

In one corner of the orchard was 
an old tree which I regarded with in- 
terest, though it was considered of 
little value by the household. It 



8i 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

Stood SO near a small building, used 
for the storing of fruit, that it had 
little space to extend its branches in 
that direction. To offset this, it put 
its force into long arms stretching the 
other way. It bore abundantly, but, 
perhaps from a lack of judicious thin- 
ning out, the fruit was of inferior 
quality. The flavor was a peculiar 
spicy blending of sweet and sour. 
Whatever distinctive name the tree 
might have borne in the past had 
long fallen away from it, so I gave it a 
name of my own, the ** spice-apple 
tree." I knew that there were many 
better varieties in the orchard, of 
finer texture and richer flavor, but 
in these I found a hint of something 
good that might be better; a possi- 
bility of improvement under favorable 
conditions. My feeling about this 
tree was not unlike that which 



82 



< < 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

Thoreau has expressed about the 
wild apple shrubs which he came 
across in his long rambles. 

'Every wild apple shrub," he writes, 
excites our expectation, somewhat 
as every wild child. It is perhaps a 
prince in disguise." 

Was the spice-apple tree such a 
prince? If he were, he had no choice 
but to remain in disguise, for there was 
no one to help him find or gain his 
throne. Burbank of California fame 
was too far away. Moreover, the 
wonderful results that he has since 
brought about were then undreamed 
of, except, perhaps, by himself. 

One wild and gusty night in late 
autumn, this tree, handicapped by 
its unevenly weighted branches, suc- 
cumbed to a sudden blast. The 
trunk snapped near the ground and 
fell over with its under limbs resting 



83 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

there. The injury was too severe to 
admit of propping up, and it was left 
to he where it fell. By and by the 
snow came, softly falling, hiding the 
rent and ragged edges and shielding 
them from the bitter cold. Thus it 
remained all through the winter, the 
prostrate trunk clinging only by a 
few fibres to the roots below. When 
spring came with its warm rains, each 
tiny twig began to put forth tender 
shoots. A little later, every branch 
was covered with a wealth of pink 
and white blossoms. Later still 
came the apples, smaller than before 
yet retaining much the same appear- 
ance and flavor. 

1 his tree called forth blended pity 
and admiration. What energy it 
showed! What persistent devotion to 
the purpose of its being! Was all 
nature like that .? All nature — 



84 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

vegetable and animal ? Did one life 
common to both throb through every 
plant, every creature ? Youth is very 
shy in the expression of inmost feeling, 
and I kept all such questioning for 
the most part to myself. It seemed 
scarcely a subject for conversation, 
and I was not sure that my friends 
would comprehend. 

Here and there in the orchard were 
quince trees, somewhat gnarled and 
venerable in appearance, since the 
quince is comparatively short-lived 
and takes on an appearance of age 
earlier than most trees. They were 
still bearing beautiful golden quinces, 
however, out of which fine jellies were 
made of a glowing translucent red 
color; also a very rich preserve, more 
highly valued, perhaps, in the past 
than at present. 

It has been thought by some com- 



85 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

mentators that the **Tappuah'' of the 
Scriptures, usually translated apple, 
was a quince. By the Greeks and 
Romans the quince was regarded 
as a fruit sacred to Venus. She is 
often represented as holding one in 
her right hand. This is supposed to 
be the golden apple, or quince, marked 
*Tor the Fairest," which Eris or Dis- 
cord threw among the guests at the 
marriage of Peleus and Thetis, and 
which was awarded to Venus by 
Paris. The quince therefore was 
considered a symbol of love. A 
slightly rough and acid symbol, it 
seems, as one recalls its puckery 
quality when eaten raw, but it may 
not be so unsuitable, after all, for is 
not Love ofttimes, 

"A prick, a sting, a pang V 

To dream of quinces was considered 



86 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

a sign of successful wooing. To send 
them as a gift was a token of love, 
also to eat them together. To eat 
them uncooked, in our latitude, is to 
set one's teeth on edge, but it is said 
that in hot countries they become 
milder in flavor and lose their woolly 
skin. 

There is a poetic beauty and charm 
about an orchard in the spring, es- 
pecially in blossom time, that it has 
only at that season. But there is 
another beauty, an autumnal charm, 
scarcely less distinctive. It is the 
beauty and charm of accomplish- 
ment, of productiveness, of **mellow 
fruitfulness." The gathering in of 
harvests, and of fruit harvests in par- 
ticular, is a picturesque and exhilara- 
ing sight. The golden sunshine of 
the calm October days, the bright 
colors of the fruit and the varied 



87 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

tints of the ripening foliage, the lad- 
ders leaning against tree trunks, with 
men mounted upon them, the horses 
or oxen harnessed to carts, standing 
patiently near by, waiting for an 
order to carry away the boxes and 
barrels as they are filled, — all these 
make up a picture enlivening, be- 
cause it is a phase of life, yet also with 
an element of sadness. Instinctively 
we attribute to the trees sensations 
similar to our own. Do they exult 
in the completion of the season's work ^ 
Are they glad that it is over .? Are 
they willing to give up its product 
for the benefit of mankind .? Or are 
they also conscious — however dimly 
— of the reaction that often follows 
upon human effort ^ Is there a sense 
of loneliness as the loaded wains 
move slowly out of the orchard, 
whither they cannot follow ^ Who 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

can say ? Trees and plants have 
been supposed until recently to exist 
solely for the need or pleasure of man. 
We are now beginning to realize what 
a complex life they have of their own. 
Maeterlinck writes : 

**Though there be plants that are 
awkward and unlucky, there is none 
wholly devoid of wisdom and in- 
genuity. All exert themselves to 
accomplish their work. The genius 
of the earth acts in the vital struggle 
exactly as a man would act. It 

gropes, it hesitates, it corrects itself. 
It fights like ourselves against the 
heavy and obscure mass of its being." 

The years flew swiftly by. The 
boys and girls who had played in the 
orchard grew gradually out of boy- 
hood and girlhood into young man- 
hood and young womanhood. But 
they did not outgrow the orchard, nor 



89 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

forget it. They came back to it 
whenever they could, and to a casual 
observer it seemed to suffer little 
change. Nevertheless, the imprint of 
Time's finger was visible here and 
there. One of the greening apple 
trees, condemned as a cumberer of 
the ground, was missing. The pros- 
trate spice-apple tree had been taken 
away without ever coming into its 
kingdom. The winter sweetings 
seemed to be a little more gnarly and 
worm eaten than of old. 1 he bower- 
like tree, the pride of the orchard, 
was gradually decaying. It had been 
too ambitious, too generous, and had 
become weakened by overbearing. 
Then, in its exhausted state, an insidi- 
ous foe — a borer — had seized 
upon it and was slowly sapping its 
life. It still bore apples of the same 
delicious flavor and beautiful color, 



90 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

but they were smaller and less plenti- 
ful. The slender pear tree supported 
its end of the hammock as in the past, 
but it bore no fruit and seldom any 
blossoms. It had yielded at last to 
the force of adverse environment. 
The grape vines, like Iduna's apples, 
seemed to be endov^ed with inde- 
structible vitality, and the arbor was 
as ever a chosen retreat. 

Other years fled by, on even swifter 
wings — or so it seemed. Some of 
the boys and girls were fathers and 
mothers now, and a new generation 
of children sought the orchard to play, 
to dream, to think. It was just as 
dear a place to them, doubtless, as 
it had been to those before them; 
just as suitable either for merrymak- 
ings or reveries as in the days gone by. 
Viewed simply as an orchard, how- 
ever, it had fallen somewhat from its 



91 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

first estate. There were vacant spots 
that had once been filled, and longer 
stretches of grass between the trees. 
Of the older trees, one only remained, 
a winter sweeting which reared its 
stately trunk high in the air. Every 
spring it wore — palm-like — a crown 
of leaves and beautiful pink blossoms; 
but its fruit was left ungathered on 
the ground. The wild cherry trees 
had been cut down; they were too 
hospitable to the caterpillar tribe. 
The tree of the ambrosial apples — 
the orchard's pride — had vanished 
and no successor had come to reign 
in its stead. Some of the smaller 
fruits, as currants and gooseberries, 
had succumbed to insect enemies, 
while the raspberries had broken 
bounds and encroached upon their 
domain. Most of the herbs were 
gone. It had been found easier to 



92 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

buy them in neat little packages from 
the druggist or the grocer than to 
raise them. 

But enough remained to render the 
orchard useful and attractive. Most 
of the apple trees were still vigorous 
and in fine bearing condition, as were 
also the pear trees. The quince 
and peach trees had somehow man- 
aged to reproduce themselves, for 
young trees were growing near the 
older ones. The rhubarb bed had 
been reinforced by plants of an even 
finer variety. The arbor, which after 
years of service had lost its strength 
and symmetry in the viselike grasp 
of entangling vines, had been taken 
down and replaced by one less orna- 
mental, but more convenient for grape 
gathering, and more durable. 

There had been also a few additions. 
In a part of the orchard bordering on 



93 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

the roadside two young elms had 
been set out some years before. These 
had grown into lofty and vigorous 
trees. Within their leafy coverts 
many birds built their nests, and the 
mornings and the evenings were made 
cheerful with their singing. On 
another side a row of sugar maples 
had been planted. One only had 
lived, but that had developed into a 
tree of unusual beauty, symmetrical 
in its proportions, abounding in foli- 
age — a glory of green in summer, a 
golden glory in the autumn. In a 
sheltered corner some sycamore ma- 
ples had sprung up, doubtless from 
seeds dropped by a bird or wafted 
thither by the wind. Here and there 
clover and wild flowers had crept in 
amid the grass. 

None of these changes enhanced 
in any way the material value of the 



94 



AN ORCHARD ANCESTRAL 

orchard, but they did, perhaps, add 
to its picturesqueness. Each passing 
year, moreover, has invested it with 
new associations. If these seem to 
some of us less deHghtful, less inspir- 
ing than those of earlier years, we 
must look for the cause, not in the 
orchard, but in ourselves. Associa- 
tions, unlike most other things, ap- 
pear to gain in vivid and tender in- 
terest the older they become. 

This Ancestral Orchard, therefore, 
known and loved of four generations, 
is a visible link connecting the past 
and the present — those who loved 
it long ago with those who love it 
now. It is a natural tie, but it is 
more than that, for it is deeply in- 
fused with a spiritual quality. An 
earthly orchard, useful and beautiful 
it seems, yet is it not also a type of 
something that we all hope to find 
again in the Realm of the Spirit ? 



95 






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